Remembering Dr. Daya Ram Varma on His First Death Anniversary

Today marks the one year passing of Dr. Daya Ram Varma. His son Rahul Varma has shared the following words about his father, the Bhopal Gas Disaster, and his play Bhopal. Thank you Rahul for sharing this with us.

“When the Union Carbide plant exploded, killing over 2500 people overnight, and while company bosses, corporate lobbyists and media were busy establishing whose fault it was, my father flew to India and started collecting data from the survivors and victims — data which would later become the subject of his research and, eventually, potential evidence against the corporation. He told me that the impact of this poison gas (MIC or methyl isocyanate) would haunt not only the present but the generation to come. He told me that those not yet born at the time of the explosion would carry devastating effects of the MIC, a fact which was kept hidden as a trade secret.

When I sit down to pen a play, one of my primary subjects for contemplation is how this play might be distinct from other plays written on the same theme. My father’s one-liner, “MIC will haunt the generation yet to be born” – became that distinct idea of the play that premiered in 2001, and which was subsequently published, translated and produced in French, Hindi and Punjabi.

Dr. Sonya Labonte, a character in the play, was inspired and informed by my father’s work. I based this character on him to honour his prophetic thinking. He pursued his research and produced scientific facts and published papers exposing the corporate culpability. He could not be silenced. Once, at a scientific conference in Pittsburgh, USA, he walked up to and scolded Union Carbide hired doctor Hans Weill, who infamously said that MIC would be hydrolyzed and roll out of the Bhopal victims’ eyes. My father warned him never to go to India.”

You can also read Rahul’s tribute to his father on the anniversary of his passing.

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Additional Compensation for Bhopalis: Why is the Prime Minister Silent

Press Conference
February 25, 2016

At a Press Conference today, leaders of five organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, condemned the deliberate neglect of the central and state governments towards the curative petition for additional compensation from American corporations. The organizations also launched a postcard campaign requesting the Supreme Court Registrar for an early hearing on the curative petition against Union Carbide and its owner Dow Chemical Company.

“It is now more than five years since the government filed the curative petition and there has been no hearing yet.” said Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh who was honoured by the President of India with the “Women Achievers Award” last month. “It is indeed shameful that the government has not moved a single petition for urgent hearing on additional compensation. Meanwhile, victims of the disaster continue to die battling economic hardship caused due to exposure related ill health and paltry compensation.” she added.

Balkrishna Namdeo, of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that the government’s neglect towards the legal rights of the Bhopal victims to adequate compensation is evident in its carelessness regarding figures of injury and death. “Despite the central minister’s promise made over an year ago, the figures of injury and death in the curative petition remain downplayed to a fraction of the actual damage.” he said.

According to Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action, the government’s submissions arguing for 1.2 billion dollars additional compensation before the Supreme Court run to 474 pages. In contrast, Union Carbide and Dow Chemical’s arguments for holding the 470 million dollar settlement of 1989 to be full and final run to 3657 pages together. “Its not just the number of pages, the quality of arguments and the presentation of facts too need much improvement, but most of all hearings on the curative must begin.” he said.

Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that the most recent submission by the government is a 7 page affidavit containing grammatical and factual errors by an Under secretary of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. “This shows what a low priority matter the curative petition is for our governments.” he added.

“The government’s neglect towards preparing a sound case for additional compensation and  towards having the petition heard are only benefitting the American corporations. The American President made a British corporation pay 20 billion dollars for 11 deaths. Why is our Prime Minister looking the other way when two American corporations are being asked to pay 5 % of that amount for over 25000 deaths by our government ? said Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide.

Rashida Bi,

Nawab Khan,

Balkrishna Namdeo,

Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,

Safreen Khan,

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha

Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Children Against Dow Carbide

94256 88215

8718035409

9826345423

9826167369

Featured Image Credit: The Hindu

Hindi Press Release Coming Soon

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Whose Side is The PM on: Bhopal Gas Victims or Dow Chemical

Press Statement

December 18, 2015

At a press conference today, leaders of the five organisations of the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal condemned the Prime Minister’s “spineless response” to Dow Chemical repeatedly ignoring notices of the Bhopal District Court. The organisations charged that instead of making Dow Chemical obey Indian laws, the Prime Minister chose to offer a lavish dinner to its CEO Andrew Liveris this September.

Modi liveris shaking Modi liveris pointing Liveris Modi smiling

“From newspaper reports we learnt that Modijee offered Liveris thandai chicken and sevaiyan cake, among other delicacies, just nine days after the Bhopal CJM issued notice against his company for sheltering the fugitive killer Union Carbide.” said Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Manila Stationery Karmchari Sangh. She said that for the last 23 years Union Carbide had been absconding from charges of culpable homicide and other serious offences related to the gas disaster that killed 25 thousand people and injured half a million.

Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha said that the Bhopal District Court had earlier sent two notices asking Dow Chemical to explain why it was not making Union Carbide appear in the ongoing criminal case on the disaster. “In the photo available at the @PMO twitter handle, Liveris is seen smiling in the front row along with Prime Minister Modi. If this is not an invitation to “Make more Bhopals in India” we do not know, what is?” he said.

“Dow Chemical, a US multinational like Union Carbide, is defying the Indian justice system while continuing to make millions of dollars as profits through its business in India and the Indian Prime Minister is pleading to Liveris to invest more in the country. For us Bhopalis it is outrageous and disgusting” said  Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action pointed out that the notices against Dow Chemical have been issued by the Bhopal District Court due to the interventions by his organization, and not by the prosecuting agency the Central Bureau of Investigation. “Tomorrow we will see whether the CBI helplessly watches Dow Chemical ignore Court’s order a third time, or whether it summons the courage to take effective legal action against the criminal corporation.” he said.

“We hope our Prime Minister has instructed the CBI to go hard against this criminal company that is sheltering killer Carbide. This way he can also prove that he is not all that the chief minister of Delhi says he is.” said Safreen Khan of Children against Dow Carbide.

Rashida Bi,

Nawab Khan,

Balkrishna Namdeo,

Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,

Safreen Khan,

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha

Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Children Against Dow Carbide

94256 88215

8718035409

9826345423

9826167369

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Bhopal Survivors Organisations Write to Prime Minister of Japan Urging Rethink Selling Nuclear Tech to India after Fukushima, And to Terminate the India-Japan Nuclear Agreements

To,
Mr. Shinzo Abe,
Prime Minister, Japan.

December 5, 2015

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings from the people of Bhopal. Ours is a city in India which has witnessed the world’s worst industrial catastrophe. As you may be aware, the disaster,itself a result of criminal neglect by callous profiteers, was only followed by political complacency and administrative apathy. The victims of Bhopal continue to struggle for justice, adequate compensation and proper medical, economic, social and environmental rehabilitation In our city, we have a commemorative statue of a mother and her child with “No More Bhopal, No More Hiroshima” written beneath it. And in the fifth year of the ongoing disaster in Fukushima, we can identify with the continued suffering and struggles of its residents.

We are writing to you to rethink the idea of selling nuclear technology to India after Fukushima, and to terminate the India-Japan nuclear agreements. To make our pleas heard citizens in Japan and people in India living near existing and proposed nuclear power plants would stage protests during your upcoming visit to India.

Bhopal, a city where more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate and other deadly gases leaked from the multinational Union Carbide manufacturing facility and turned it into a gas chamber killing ove 8000 people on the night of 2nd and 3rd December 1984. The white fog crawled through the city and killed thousands while they slept. More than 25,000 men, women and children died and over 500,000 people have suffered injuries and slow deaths over the years from the incident. Women face the worst. They face the worst illnesses. Their children are born deformed. They get cancer. Girls who are 15 look like they are six. Women don’t have their periods, and then they can’t have children. And the problems have only been compounded after 31 years. There are children born with birth defects. Women have to watch as their children endure all kinds of operations. A 2002 report revealed poisons such as 1,3,5 trichlorobenzene, dichloromethane, chloroform, lead and mercury in the breast milk of nursing women living near the factory. Many of the people who drank contaminated water have become too sick to work, but they have received no help. Meanwhile, the contaminated land has never been cleaned up, and families too poor to move live on top of the contaminated soil.

Hazardous design of the factory, unsafe location, reckless operation and maintenance procedures, reduction in personnel and deliberate cutting down of vital safety systems were found to be the immediate causes of the disaster in Bhopal. There is ample evidence of “double standards” of safety being followed by the American multinational, Bhopal’s sister plant in West Virginia being far superior in storage, production and safety systems.

Two years before the disaster, the corporation’s safety experts warned of a  “potential for the release of toxic materials” in a confidential business memo. Warren Anderson, the company’s chairman and other senior executives ignored the warning and went ahead with reducing plant personnel, shutting down vital safety systems, and keeping people in the neighborhood in the dark about the deadly chemicals stored, used and produced in the factory. Less than three months prior to the disaster, an internal Union Carbide memo warned of a “runaway reaction that could cause a catastrophic failure of the storage tanks holding the poisonous [methyl isocyanate] gas” at Union Carbide’s Institute, West Virginia plant. This warning was not shared with the management in Bhopal let alone operators of the Bhopal factory.

One of the main reasons we are opposed to the India-Japan nuclear agreement is that in our country the implementation of environment and labour laws are pathetic. It is because of such a state of affairs that a disaster like Bhopal occurred here, , We also realise that this nuclear agreement has nothing to do with the energy situation in this country, rather your sole aim is to restore some confidence in the global nuclear lobby which is facing its terminal crisis after Fukushima. We are also apprehensive that your push for this deal is primarily because Japanese companies enjoy a monopoly over certain key components including “reactor vessels” required for nuclear reactors. India has signed agreements with General Electric, Areva SA and Westinghouse to set up nuclear power plants. Japanese companies have major stakes in these companies. If Japan does not sign an agreement with India, these companies cannot proceed with their installation plans.

Therefore Mr. Prime Minister your nuclear deal with our country will bring windfall gains to these huge corporations at the cost of the environment, labour and human rights of our people. And similar to what happened in Bhopal, there will be 1000s of Bhopal happening elsewhere in the country with much more horrendous consequences.
We urge you to desist from this impending agreement during your visit to India.

We want strong relationship between India and Japan. We want both countries to come closer and work on technologies that make human lives better – renewable energy sources, effective decontamination and more accessible medicines. For a better future for India and Japan, and for safety, security and prosperity of our people, let us shun the nuclear path and opt for a peaceful future.

Thanking you.

Rashida Bi,

Nawab Khan,

Balkrishna Namdeo,

Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,

Safreen Khan,

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha

Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Children Against Dow Carbide

9826167369

Featured Image Credit: Ecowatch

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